Bernard (Bernie) Harrison, longtime television critic for The Washington Star, died yesterday afternoon after suffering a heart attack while driving his car in Rockville. He was 64.
Police said Mr. Harrison, who wrote the "TV Tonight" column for The Star, was driving in the 5500 block of Nicholson Lane about 5 p.m. on his way home from work when his car drifted across the center line and struck two other cars. There were no injuries to passengers of the other cars.
Witnesses told police that Mr. Harrison, who had a history of heart problems, appeared to be slumped over in the driver's seat as his car went out of control.
Coworkers at the Star said Mr. Harrison, a native of Washington, had been planning to retire to a newly purchased home in Sante Fe, N.M., in September after 46 years in journalism.
Mr. Harrison, who was born Bernard Issaris in 1916, was known among colleagues as an intense journalist of the old school whose pungent, perceptive writing earned him a reputation of being a tough but fair reviewer.
A graduate of McKinley Tech High School, he began working for the old Washington Times-Herald while attending Wilson Teachers College here. He graduated from Wilson with a bachelor's degree in education in 1938.
During the 1930s Mr. Harrison worked for the Times-Herald as education and radio editor. Later he became the newspaper's drama and motion picture critic and finally its television critic. In 1954 he moved to the Washington Daily News and a year later to The Star.
Aside from his highly popular television column, Mr. Harrison appeared periodically on WDCA-TV (Channel 20) in the show "Backstage," a critical review of arts in Washington, and daily on WGAY Radio with the "Bernie Harrison Show."
He is survived by his wife, Gladys, a son, Mitchell, of San Francisco, brothers George of Naples, Fla., and Alexander, of Potomac, and his mother, Bessie, of Florida.